Spirit-growing

Rabbis Laibl and Menachem Wolf outside their new premises on Balaclava Road. Photo: Peter Haskin. 23-1-16. Rabbi Laibl Wolf (left) and Rabbi Menachem Wolf stanging outside the new Spiritgrow premises at 204-206 Balaclava Rd. Photo: Peter Haskin

WITH close to a thousand people passing through their doors each week, Rabbi Laibl Wolf and Rabbi Menachem Wolf – the father-and-son duo behind Spiritgrow – are ready for something bigger.

Three times bigger to be exact.

Purchasing a three-storey property a mere five doors down from their current premises, near Caulfield Park, the space will cater more effectively for the centre’s diverse spiritual, wellbeing and Jewish mysticism programs.

“We actually don’t have sufficient space to run what we currently offer,” Rabbi Menachem Wolf said of their current, rented premises. “A new building means more rooms to occupy at the same time, as well as more tailor-made rooms for the activities that we do.

“We can have a dedicated meditation space, while at the same time running programs for youth or adult education, lectures and wellness programs.”

The Wolfs envision the new building to be a “spiritual growth centre” for the community, complete with a state-of-the-art design and a calming atmosphere.

“What we’re building doesn’t really exist in Australia and it doesn’t really exist in the world,” said Rabbi Laibl Wolf. “The future is not synagogue, that is not the future of the Jewish people at the moment. The future is spirituality and we’ll be the place that facilitates that.

This marks the first major expansion for the not-for-profit, which opened its doors nine years ago.

While concrete plans are yet to be drawn up, the rabbis intend to offer a dedicated meditation centre, lecture rooms, a library and a multipurpose room, which will be used for the weekly Spiritshul service.

Rabbi Laibl Wolf emphasised that “it’s not the end of our vision” as they might “sneak in” an organic health restaurant, as part of their promotion of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Discussing Spiritgrow’s success and growth, he attributed it to “creating a brand that people respect” and providing programs that resonate with members of the community.

The centre prides itself on its programs, lectures and shul services remaining free of charge, and this will remain the case even with the major development.

“We don’t want people to mix religion and dollars,” explained Rabbi Laibl Wolf. “It’s a very bad message, especially to the next generation.”

The rabbis project that it will take two years until the development is complete. As for financing it, the fundraising initiative is currently under wraps, but Rabbi Laibl Wolf described it as “unconventional” and unlike anything else done in Australia.

ZOE KRON